Reading this inspiring anecdote in Finding the Joy Within You, a collection of talks given by Sri Daya Mata, the longtime president of Self-Realization Fellowship, was an excellent reminder of the power of reframing and the importance of practicing what you preach.
Some years ago, shortly after becoming president, I spoke at a function at one of our Self-Realization Fellowship temples. During the banquet that preceded my talk, a woman I had never seen before was seated near me. She was not a Self-Realization member, but had decided it was her duty to be the critic of our society and its administration.
All evening my mind had been absorbed in the joyous love of Divine Mother. Suddenly, though, this person caught my eye. It was an absolute shock to see what was in her gaze. I realized, “This person hates me!” For a moment my mind was shaken. But I turned within and asked myself: “Of what value is my love for God if it is so shallow that my mind can be dragged down by the unkindness of others? Can I not practice what I have preached? Of course I can!” In that instant the blissful consciousness of God’s presence returned.
As the meal progressed, this woman busied herself in making disparaging remarks about me to those around her, loud enough to be sure I could hear her. As Gurudeva taught us to do, I began sending to her waves of love form my heart.
Because I had not allowed my mind to be affected, when the time came for me to speak, the words flowed from the inspiration that was in my soul. Afterward, as the members of the audience gathered around to greet me, this woman suddenly burst forward with tears in her eyes, and said, “Please, I must speak with you.” I agreed to see her after the function, and these were her words to me: “I beg you to forgive me for what I have done to you tonight. I know now that Paramahansaji chose the right one to lead his society.” I embraced her with the love that was in my heart.
In another story two pages later, Sri Daya Mata told of the time she encountered opposition from one of the organization’s leaders in India. When he walked out of the room in silent protest while she addressed a gathering, she had an epiphany.
But a wonderful thing happened. Looking at him, I could not see him at all; there was only the Divine manifesting in that form. Then I knew what God was trying to teach me: “Behold Me in all—not only in those who love you.” That consciousness has remained with me.
May you remember these stories the next time you encounter conflict or acrimony, and may they inspire you to see beyond the surface ugliness of the moment to the beauty of the lesson underneath: See God’s presence in all, and be grateful for the opportunity you have been given to be a source of healing love to a soul in desperate need of it.
Click here to view all my posts about Paramahansa Yogananda and Self-Realization Fellowship.